Rachel Kuhl is a natural scorer.
The junior can get to the basket and make outside shots.
She is also a gym rat, working out all year to improve her game.
It’s a great combination as the 5-8 guard is thriving this winter for the Old Bridge High School girls’ basketball team.
Kuhl is scoring 19.5 points per game. She has made 51 field goals, 30 free throws and 21 three pointers. In other words, Kuhl can beat defenders from anywhere on the court.
“Rachel has been working all offseason since she was a little girl, fourth or fifth grade,” said Old Bridge coach Alec Alspach. “She calls me in the summer to get in the weight room, lift and get better. She’s always working.”
Kuhl’s work ethic was fueled by a childhood dream. After sixth grade, she started working out with the high school team in the summer. That was when she saw the 1,000 point banner in Old Bridge’s gym for the first time.
The banner lists the boys’ and girls’ basketball players who have scored 1,000 points in their Old Bridge careers. After spotting and internalizing the milestone, Kuhl became determined to add her name to the list.
“It kept me motivated. I wanted to be one of those names,” Kuhl said. “If I get up there, it’d be a major accomplishment. It would mean everything, especially if I pull it off at home.”
At this point, Kuhl scoring 1,000 points is not a question of if. It’s a question of when.
In just two and a half seasons at Old Bridge, Kuhl has scored 990 points. She should reach 1,000 in Old Bridge’s next game, at South Brunswick High School on Jan. 17 at 6 p.m.
“I’ve been able to do this with support from my team,” Kuhl said. “Without the help of them, none of my scoring would be possible.”
After Kuhl’s hot start to the season, opponents started double teaming her. The adjustment forced Kuhl to play more of a facilitator role.
At first, she was frustrated that she couldn’t get to the basket as easily. But then she adapted.
“She’s realized that she can’t just drive through two people. She has to use teammates and dish the ball,” Alspach said. “We’ve made adjustments where she dishes, runs off a screen and gets open.”
The adaptation helped round out Kuhl’s game, and turned her into an even better college prospect.
Kuhl hopes to play basketball at the Division 1 level, and she has gotten some interest from colleges. Her AAU season this summer will go a long way toward determining her fate.
“It’s going pretty good. There has been interest here and there,” Kuhl said. “But your junior year AAU season is normally the biggest year.”
Alspach thinks Kuhl has the skills to play D1 basketball. He is just worried that coaches will be scared off by her height. Kuhl is slightly shorter than the average D1 point guard.
“I hope she gets a chance at D1. Size to her doesn’t matter. She’ll take on anyone and go up strong,” Alspach said. “She may have to go 1AA. But she’ll thrive there. She’s as talented as anyone.”
Right now, though, Kuhl is focused on helping the Knights get better. The team is 2-8 this year.
But Kuhl was encouraged by Old Bridge’s effort against East Brunswick High School on Jan. 3. The Knights lost to the 8-3 Bears, 56-48, but they played a good team to the end.
“We need to do that more often,” Kuhl said. “Stay together, stay mentally tough and move on from mistakes.”